T-minus 3 months to the total solar eclipse: How Rochester’s getting ready 

Rochester Eclipse

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Exactly three months from today (Monday, January 8), the city of Rochester and the surrounding area will be plunged into total darkness, smack in the middle of the day.

For the first time since 1925, Rochester and Monroe County are in the path of a total solar eclipse. So, what will happen on April 8?

“The temperature will drop by an average of 10 degrees, it will be eerily still,” Dan Schneiderman with the Rochester Museum and Science Center (RMSC) said. “It will almost look like a sunset around us, and it’s going to be one of the greatest experiences we’ll ever get to go through.”

Schneiderman is the Eclipse Partner Coordinator at RMSC. He says that folks at RMSC and all over Rochester have been preparing for April 8 for as long as seven years.

Since Schneiderman came on a few years ago, he’s helped plan their three-day celebration the weekend ahead of the eclipse. It’ll include food trucks, live music, and as many telescopes as they can fit on the front lawn.

He’s also the reason that class is canceled that day for nearly every school in Monroe County. 

“Businesses to government officials, transportation, medical, I’ve chatted with everyone and anyone,” he said. “It’s kind of led to this phrase — literally everyone under the sun is a stakeholder.”

But not everyone under the sun will be in the path of totality. There are only a handful of cities across the United States that will experience the total darkness that makes this eclipse so special.

In fact, it’s so rare, that between 350,000 and 500,000 people are expected to travel to Rochester to see it. That’s the estimate that the city’s official tourism promotion agency Visit Rochester came up with, based on the last total solar eclipse that touched down in America.

“Greenville, South Carolina was in the path of totality, and they were the easternmost city,” Visit Rochester CEO and president Don Jeffries said. “They had 350,000 people. And we are the easternmost city in the path of totality. So if you’re in Boston, New York, Washington, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, this is where you want to be.”

To prepare for these hundreds of thousands of visitors, Jeffries said that just about every destination in the greater Rochester area has something planned. 

One such destination is The Strong Museum of Play. While they’re working out the details still, they will have a weeklong celebration in the days leading up to the eclipse.

“We are going to be celebrating space, astronauts, things like that through what we know best: Through the lens of play,” Senior Director of PR Shane Rhinewald said. “So we’re going to bring out our electronic games that are themed around space. So if you think the asteroids, the lunar lander, things like that. We’re going to do some special displays around the museum, because toys and space go together.”

Other locations that will have celebrations include Parcel 5, The Rochester Public Market, and Innovative Field. Representatives with all three organizations said they’re not quite ready to announce the details yet, but will do so in the coming weeks. 

 “We had the PGA, which was spectacular, now we’re doing the eclipse,” Jeffries said. “Rochester can host big events. That’s the message here – because this is going to be a huge event, and the economic impact…We don’t have any numbers yet, but it’s going to be huge.”

While solar eclipses are pretty common, Schneiderman said that the next solar eclipse won’t have a path of totality through the United States until 2044. And the next total solar eclipse won’t hit Rochester completely until 100 years after that, in 2144.

When that time comes, Schneidermann said we can likely expect Rochester’s 2024 celebration to be part of a museum exhibit.

“Everything that the community is doing, everything that we’re doing, everything that the greater Rochester region is doing, we get to document and archive and save for that far off time where it’s not our children and our grandchildren — but […] their children and grandchildren that will get to experience that next eclipse.”

See all of News10NBC’s eclipse coverage here.